By LISA MACNEIL
Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a one-year lease with Tampa Bay Extreme Adventure Course (TBEAC) on Feb. 12, 2019.
Following the TreeUmph! closure in August 2018, the Board of County Commissioners decided to seek bids from interested entities to continue operations at the 36-acre adventure course at 6440 Cedar Lane, featuring ziplines, ladders, nature trails and balance beams in a natural environment.
Tampa Bay Extreme Adventure Course LLP (TBEAC) provided the winning bid. TBAEC requested a one-year license agreement of $1000/month to operate the park. Substantially lower than the lease agreement with TreeUmph!, it was accepted by the commissioners to allow TBEAC to move in and begin operations quickly.
Economic Development Manager Valerie Pianta reported that TBEAC Administrator Albert Barbusci, “doesn’t feel that there is any possible way they can come close to $4000 a month and make it work, so he’d like to be able to start the process and see how things go. He’s going to spend about $80,000 in advertising, and he needs to get some people hired.” Pianta advised the board that her department has stressed to Barbusci that, in the future, the $1000 per month rent fee would not be sustainable.
Commissioner John Allocco noted differences between this agreement and the agreement with TreeUmph!, which yielded no revenue for the first two years. Allocco continued, “I love for this company to get their feet wet and get moving… this (agreement) is only for twelve months, and (they will) be working way before that… this has already failed once, and we want it to succeed.”
Commissioner Wayne Dukes said, “$1000 a month is better than a poke in the eye. They came to us, and they were honest. They said, ‘We want to try to make this work, if we can, we may want to buy it from you.’ Right now it’s just sitting there. Anything that’s been damaged, if you leave it longer, it costs more. So if they’re going to give us $1000 and then walk away in four months … or a year, we’re still better off.”
Dukes made the motion to approve the agreement, which was seconded by Commissioner Steve Champion.
TBEAC intends to negotiate a formal lease with the county that would include an option to purchase the 36-acre parcel and its equipment and improvements.
According to details in the BOCC agenda paperwork, “(TBEAC) intends to actively market the attraction within the Tampa Bay Region and throughout Central Florida to visitors and residents. They expect to be fully operational by the end of February.”
Economic Development revenue is anticipated to be $8,000 for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 and $4,000 for FY 2020.